Suicide of woman who feared she was suffering Alzheimer's like her mother — (Gloucester Citizen)

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Gloucester Citizen

By The Citizen

Posted: January 30, 2012

A 60-YEAR-OLD woman jumped to her death from a cliff top because she feared she was developing dementia like her late mother, an inquest heard.

Judith Iles, a retired GP surgery administrator, left a note for her husband and son saying “So sorry, I’m turning into my mum – I couldn’t stand that” – and then jumped 70 feet to her death at the famous Wintour’s Leap beauty spot in the Wye Valley.

She had previously suffered two chest infections and was becoming increasingly dependent, as her mother had been.

Mrs Iles, of St George’s Road, Bulwark, Chepstow, was found at the bottom of a quarry near Wintour’s Leap by her son Matthew when he went searching for her on October 20.

Her husband Walter said she had “adored” her mother but that she had been devastated by her mother’s dependency and subsequent death.

He said: “For her, Alzheimer’s was a fate worse than death. It was her greatest fear.”

During an inquest, he told Assistant Deputy Gloucestershire Coroner Katy Skerrett: “She retired in 2010 intending to enjoy life and was in good health apart from asthma but when we returned from a holiday she got two chest infections one after the other and we had to cancel another holiday. She then began suffering from nerves and, in June 2011, she stopped going out and no longer wanted to see lifelong friends. She was taking antidepressants and valium even though she had not been diagnosed with depression, but she had side effects.

“I believe she was shutting down because she thought her deteriorating health was mirroring her mother’s and that was her biggest fear.”

Mrs Iles told her husband she was going into Chepstow on October 17 and, he said, he was pleased she was going out. But after a few hours he became worried and he and his son Matthew searched the area.

She was reported missing to police and the search continued until 2am the following morning, with the help of friends and neighbours.


Son Matthew told the coroner they resumed the search over the following two days without any sign of his mother but on October 20, he went to search around Tutshill, where Mrs Iles had loved to walk.

He found her at the foot of a cliff in a disused riverside quarry.

Her GP Dr Alasdair Thomas said she had suffered episodes of work-related stress for many years.

He said: “She had been taking diazepam for some time and her reliance on it increased.

“I referred her to the mental health team but they declined to treat her because they felt she was not suffering from a mental illness.”